| By Long Island Tennis Magazine Staff

Claire Handa is a seventh grader from Rockville Centre, N.Y. who attends Friends Academy. Currently, Claire is ranked fourth in the Eastern Section in Girls 12s Division and is ranked 61st Nationally in Girls 12s Division, the highest ranked Long Island player in the Girls 12s Division. Long Island Tennis Magazine recently had a chance to interview this top rising junior player …

How did you get started in tennis? And at what age?
I started playing at the age of seven. My older brother played tennis, and I would always be taken to his lessons and matches, and it looked like a lot of fun, so I started playing.

How often do you play and whom do you play with?
I play around four or five times a week. Twice a week, I play with my tennis coach Maurice Trail, and two or three times each week, I hit with a college player from New York City.

What are your strengths and weaknesses as a tennis player?
The strength of my game is probably my serve. The shots I'd like to improve the most are my volleys and backhand slice.

What has been the most memorable moment so far in your short tennis career?
This past summer, I won my first national tournament, a Girls 12s event at Robbie Wagner's Tournament Training Center over Labor Day Weekend.

What are your future goals in tennis?
I would definitely like to play college tennis. Beyond that, I plan to just keep working hard and see if I can become good enough to make it to the pros.

What are your interests away from the tennis court?
My favorite thing to do away from tennis is reading. I read a new book every two to three weeks. I also enjoy soccer and gardening.

Do you plan on playing high school tennis?
At Friends Academy, you cannot try out for the tennis team until the ninth grade. But yes, I would like to play at that time. I think it would be a lot of fun and a great experience.

Since you are playing in national tournaments, have you had the chance to go out of New York to play?
Yes, I have played one Super National in Georgia and one national event in Ohio. It is cool going to see other areas and playing players from all over.

“Claire has all the necessary tools to continue to be a top player going forward. She is extremely athletic, a student of the game and a very hard worker. She is extremely easy to work with because she is so talented and a good listener. If she realizes how good she can be, the sky is the limit. For now I just ask her to focus and stay relaxed on the court. I see great things from Claire moving forward.”
—Maurice Trail, coach of Claire Handa